California has long been the only state to have passed a blanket law to aid all undocumented immigrants, but now New Jersey has joined the state after Gov. Phil Murphy repealed key restrictions.
The restrictions barred undocumented individuals from obtaining occupational and professional licenses, which are necessary to enter a large number of career fields. For the approximately 500,000 undocumented immigrants living in the Garden State, this is big news.
“This law sends a simple, powerful message that immigration status can no longer be used as an excuse to discriminate among equally educated, trained, and qualified individuals,” said Murphy.
Although licensing varies state by state, nearly one in four jobs nationally require professional or occupational licenses. In New Jersey, roles that require licenses include social workers, tradesmen such as plumbers and electricians, barbers, beauticians, and healthcare workers.
Before the pandemic, an estimated 2 million immigrants were underemployed in low-skilled jobs instead of the field of work they were in before they came to the country. At a time where there’s extra demand for healthcare workers—and a need for people to find work in general—this law could help provide America with the workers it needs right now while helping undocumented workers gain access to better jobs.